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HomeProtective Gear8 Best Combat Shirts of 2023 | Buyer's Guide & Reviews

8 Best Combat Shirts of 2023 | Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

The best combat shirt can make all the difference when it comes to undercover operations and tactical work. A good combat shirt serves as comfortable base layer that can be worn alongside other tactical gear and protective equipment. Combat shirts should provide you with a basic level of protection against injury, while also allowing you to maintain plenty of flexibility to carry out high-octane operations.
As you will be wearing a combat shirt for long periods of time and underneath heavier materials, they should also be made from breathable fabric to keep you as dry, cool and comfortable. Our guide brings you all the information you need when selecting the best combat shirt for your needs.

Breathable Material Construction

As you will be wearing a combat shirt as a base layer in most scenarios, you need to think about breathability. When selecting a combat shirt, look for garments that are made from a high-quality blend of cotton and polyester. These materials are particularly good at ensuring enough air circulates between your skin and the fabric layer, preventing heat from becoming trapped and sweat from building up.
Breathable materials should also wick away moisture quickly when it does form, while also allowing your combat shirt to dry easily while you are still wearing it. If you do plan on wearing a combat shirt with heavy protective armour, you should think about investing a shirt that includes mesh panels at the side. These serve as breathable vents, allowing heat and moisture to escape from between the fabric layer and your body quickly.

Protective Properties

Combat shirts also need to provide you with a basic degree of protection against your surroundings and, in some cases, from an attack by an assailant. Although the torso section of a combat shirt will usually be made from the thinnest material to ensure it performs well in terms of breathability, the other sections should be reinforced to amp up the protective credentials of the garment.
The sleeves should be made from a higher quality material, with reinforced elbows to ensure you can crawl, climb and shoot while wearing your shirt without suffering an injury. Look for elbow reinforcements made from two-way stretch material, as this will provide you with a good balance of abrasion resistance and flexibility. Saddle shoulders are also something to consider.
Shirts that include substantial reinforcement at the shoulders will make it easier to carry the additional weight of body armour, without the shirt layer shifting and bunching too much as you move around. Some combat shirts will also include an adjustable collar, giving you the option to wear your collar upwards to protect your neck from abrasion.

Integrated Storage

Although your duty belts and body armour should provide you with a good amount of storage for firearms and other items, you should still consider storage compartments when selecting a combat shirt. Most combat shirts will usually include some form of pocket and pouch located at the biceps.
These are usually small in size, providing little space for anything bigger than a pen or compact electronic device. Good quality zippers will ensure your stored items remain firmly in place while you are moving round.


If you only intend to use your combat shirt as a base layer, you do not really need to think too much about aesthetics. However, if you want a more versatile garment that can be worn on its own, without additional body armour, aesthetics are an important consideration.
Many combat shirts are designed with casual aesthetics, allowing you to wear them with your everyday wardrobe. They are ideal for undercover work in the field. Just make sure any reinforced panels or storage pockets are discreet enough that they will not look too conspicuous.

The Best Combat Shirts

Looking for a quality combat shirt you can count on? Below are some of the best combat shirts on the market currently worth investing in.

Vertx 37.5 Combat Shirt

The Vertx 37.5 is a quality choice of combat shirt for law enforcement professionals looking for exceptional durability and performance enhancing design. This shirt features reinforced panels at the elbows, meaning you can undertake high-octane activity on a regular basis without damaging your gear.

The advanced Mini Ripstop fabric will also suit the needs of those who need the freedom to be able to climb and crawl, providing you with an essential layer of protection against your surroundings. The fabric is also enhanced by VaporCore technology, which delivers superior breathability. Should you work up a sweat, the fabric will also dry far more quickly than conventional fabrics.

This combat shirt also features spacious pockets on both arms, with secure fastening to ensure your stored items remain in place. The inclusion of a suede collar also provides a further layer of protection for your throat, which is especially handy if you are wearing additional body armour and protective gear that might cause uncomfortable chaffing.


First Tactical Men’s Defender Shirt

This First Tactical Men’s Defender Shirt will boost your performance, while also providing you with professional attire that looks the part. This combat shirt is made from innovative Defender Fabric, a breathable blend of cotton and nylon that provides you with a breathable layer to wear when undertaking demanding work activities.

This material also includes a two-way stretch, allowing you to carry out a range of activities and strenuous motions, without your mobility being limited. The material is cooling, preventing significant sweating. Should your shirt become wet, the material will dry far more quickly than conventional fabrics. This combat shirt is also reinforced in all the right areas.

The elbows are enhanced with a double-layer of protective material that will allow you to crawl and climb comfortably without suffering scrapes and minor injuries. You will also find zip-fasten pockets at the biceps of each arm, providing you useful storage for small items.


5.11 Tactical Men’s Multicam TDU Rapid Assault Combat Shirt 72185

This first-rate combat shirt has been designed for situations where you need a decent layer of protection against your surroundings, while also needing to remain mobile and unrestricted. This shirt is finished with a specialist coloured pattern, that will effectively reduce your visibility to the naked eye, as well in infrared spectrum. This is particularly handy for those who anticipate that their targets may have access to IR detection equipment.

Although this combat shirt is designed to be worn along with protective gear as a base layer, it is still a very effective piece of attire. The main section of this shirt is constructed from a tough cotton and polyester blend, with additional spandex granting it plenty of flexibility so your movement is not restricted. This innovative fabric blend also benefits from being particularly breathable, meaning you do not have to worry about building up a sweat, even if you are wearing this with additional layers of body armour.

The sleeves are even more durable than the main body, meaning you can contend with adverse conditions without worrying about suffering an injury. The saddle shoulders are also reinforced to take the brunt of additional gear such as body armour and plate carriers, without you becoming uncomfortable or your shirt material becoming cinched. Large pockets are also situated at the shoulder, providing you with a convenient storage solution for small items that can be easily retrieved in seconds.


5.11 Tactical Men’s Rapid Assault Combat Shirt 72194

This heavy-duty combat shirt is the ideal base layer for tactical applications. The main body section of this shirt is made from a durable blend of cotton and polyester, with additional spandex to provide you with exceptional agility, even when worn with additional layers of body armour and protective gear.

This material also provides you with a breathable base to wear when carrying out tactical tasks. Not only will the breathable blend keep you cool and prevent sweat from building up, it will also dry quickly should it become wet. This makes it ideal for when you need a layer that can be worn underneath other gear for long periods of time.

Mesh panels located the side of the shirt further boost the breathable performance of this garment. This shirt also includes saddle shoulders, which are reinforced to handle the additional weight of heavy equipment. You will also find spacious shoulder pockets on offer here, providing you with additional storage space for minor items.


TRU-SPEC Tactical Response Uniform (T.R.U.) 1/4 Zip Combat Shirt

This item is a good choice for those who want something that falls in between a conventional combat shirt and a more heavy-duty jacket. This premium combat shirt has been constructed from advanced CORDURA material, providing you with excellent resistance against burns and flame damage.

Despite its protective properties, this material is still surprisingly breathable. It will effectively dissipate heat and wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and ensuring you remain comfortable when wearing it for long periods of time. The front of this shirt also features a quarter-length zip, capping off in a mandarin collar.

A hood is also included, making this an all-weather option. Storage pockets can be found on the sleeves to house smaller items, while loop attachments serve as an anchorage for adding other items.


Condor Tactical Combat Shirt

The Condor Tactical Combat Shirt looks fairly stripped-back at first glance, but it is a rugged choice of base layer that will perform well in the field. This shirt features raglan sleeves that provide you with plenty of flexibility and a full range of motion.

This shirt also offers good levels of breathability, with the underarms including mesh panels for maximum ventilation. The collar is also lined with mesh material, preventing abrasion from occurring if you are wearing heavier gear over the top of the shirt. The forearm material will also help protect against abrasion, whether you are getting stuck into your environment during an operation, or wearing thick layers of protective gear over the top of your combat shirt.

The premium material used to produce this shirt will also satisfy with its anti-static properties. It also boasts effective anti-microbial properties, making it easy to maintain and keep in a hygienic condition.


LA Police Gear Combat Shirt

This LA Police Gear Combat Shirt will meet the needs of those after a low-key combat shirt that offers excellent performance and comfort. This shirt features raglan sleeves that provide you with a full range of movement, while the quarter-length zipper at the front also provides you with some flexibility when it comes to wearing.

This combat shirt also features mesh underarm panels, supporting better ventilation that will ensure you remain cool and comfortable for long periods of time. Elbow pad and biceps pockets provide you with handy storage for smaller items, while loop closure attachments mean you can fasten further pouches to your person or secure body armour to your base layer easily.


Condor Trident Battle Top

This Condor Trident Battle Top is a superior choice of base layer for those having to contend with warmer temperatures and more humid conditions. The short-sleeved design makes this shirt far more comfortable to wear underneath body armour, especially if you are having to work in hot weather.

Although the sleeves are short, they still offer a raglan cut that ensures a full range of movement. The crew neck design also makes this low-key combat shirt a less restrictive choice. The downside of this combat shirt is that it offers less protection against abrasion than its longer-sleeved counterparts, especially if you intend to wear bulky body armour over it.


In Summary

When choosing a combat shirt, you need to weigh up what features are most important to you. If you plan on wearing your combat shirt as a base layer, breathability is very important. Look for a quality fabric blend that will encourage airflow and ensure your skin remains cool and free of moisture.

Mesh panels underneath the arms or at the sides will help ensure maximum airflow. You should also think about protection against abrasion. If you want to add heavy body armour into the mix, go for a shirt that includes saddle shoulders, as these will take the brunt of the weight of your additional gear and prevent your shirt fabric from becoming bunched up. Reinforced elbows are also a good idea, especially if you want a shirt that can be worn without extra gear.

If you want to go incognito, but still want the protection and performance provided by a combat shirt, you should also consider the aesthetics of the garment. Go for simple designs in neutral colours, with classic cuts and accents that will not look out of place in a normal wardrobe.



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